Ikea Furnishes Us With The Stats on Happiness

Jun 05, 2014 at 7:26 AM ET

Furniture behemoth Ikea may be known for its meatballs and indecipherable flatpack assembly instructions, but don’t forget that the brand also tracks our every move in stores and on the Internet. That means while we’re struggling to assemble cheap Nordic furniture, they’re assembling data on a sizable chunk of humanity.

This year’s “Life at Home” report, the Swedish conglomerate’s annual survey about how we spend our time in the mornings at home, comes with a slew of fancy, customizable charts about how happy we are—and can be—thanks to our a.m. routines and our flatpack furniture. The study is a sociological snapshot and marketing scam rolled into one, and with results from more than 8,000 respondents in eight cities around the world, it’s loaded with insight about just how influential the Selje nightstand is in our everyday lives (spoiler: very).

There’s a lot to make of the Ikea data, presented in shape-shifting interactive charts for the first time (usually the results come in PDFs). Perhaps the most telling results are those surrounding what the Swedish brand calls “Life Satisfaction”—a marker, we assume, of how smug a respondent is. It’s a smugness matrix. And these smug “life satisfaction” results are particularly interesting for survey takers between the ages of 18 and 29.

If you’re a millennial looking for a satisfactory life, then lingering in your DIY Ikea bed in the morning simply won’t do. Maybe this is because Ikea’s signature Malm bed isn’t all that comfortable. Maybe you only sleep so well in it because putting it together is so incredibly exhausting. In any case, waking up quickly is best for overall happiness, which is why those groggy losers in Stockholm have a miserable happiness score—just 6.1 out of a possible 9. Get happy, you miserable people of Sweden! You gave the world Abba!

And millennials should forget breakfast and morning exercise (Ikea also surveys its respondents about their diet and fitness habits), since these things make little difference to our overall levels of satisfaction, unless you’re selling tens of thousands of cereal bowls and spoons ever year like a Swedish furniture giant.

Instead, we should probably consider cuddling more frequently. While the majority of millennials don’t make time for pre-work cuddling, those who do are far more satisfied in life than their unfeeling peers. Again, Sweden is down at the bottom when it comes to cuddling. See that light green circle at the bottom right? That’s the unhappy Swedes. Maybe they’d be happier if they sold less cheap furniture. Can’t be sure.

Note that Ikea’s results say little about what sort of Ikea bed is most satisfying for an a.m. cuddle. Maybe it’s the Nordli. Or the Svelvik. What’s clear is that cuddling with other humans in any bed will do the trick. If you’re sad and lonely, you could splash out for a Kulladal, which kind of sounds like “cuddle,” but is a cushion that you could cuddle in lieu of a person.

The same goes for having sex with a partner before work (or even just giving him or her a hug or kiss)—it’s a surefire happy-maker. Presumably all these activities can happen standing, or prostrate on the floor, or on a bed or maybe—if Ikea is lucky—on the brand’s Pragel countertop. Not if you’re Swedish, though. They’re not having sex or being happy in this portion of the survey. What’s wrong, Sweden? This is your country’s survey. Step up and own it.

The charts are jam-packed with details about morning routines around the world, and it’s worth a quick play to see how many happiness metrics Sweden can bottom out in when it’s a Swedish happiness survey. There’s data on how many times we hit snooze and our morning stress; information about our coffee drinking habits and morning productivity; and snapshots of how grooming affects confidence levels as we leave for work. It’s like an Ikea store, but for data. Data about how so very sad Swedes are.

But hey, it could all be a ruse. We know Ikea doesn’t care about happiness, anyway, because its execs killed the Expedit shelf in February. Happiness is a full Expedit shelf, Ikea. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?